In the proceeding time I did four hours hard labour, for which privilege I paid my escort twenty dollars. I told them that they should have paid me I did all the work while they sat and waited in comfort.
But the sites were stupendous. The former capital of several past kingdoms, Bago has more fabulous temples than anywhere else in Burma, as well as the enormous Kha Khat Wain Kyaung Monastery, the third biggest in the country. Previously called Pegu, Bago was a thriving port on the Pegu River before the river changed its course and cut the town off from the sea.
Our first call was the Shwethalyaung Buddha, a reclining statue 180 feet long and 53 feet high. Its original date is uncertain but it was already considered old in 1769 when records tell of it being restored after an earthquake. I stood before it, dwarfed by the mind-boggling size of it. Just its little finger measured ten feet. That’s some digit.
Burma Metro Map Photo Gallery
Gold- and mirror-decorated pillars marched the length of the hall that housed the Buddha. Walls, also patterned with mirrors and gold, surrounded it. The statue was currently being washed. Men diminished by its size to ants crawled on it wielding long handled brooms.
My escort and I moved on, jolting and crashing in and out of potholes, to another reclining Buddha. This one was outdoors. Sprawling is a more apt description than reclining; the Naung Daw Gyi Mya Tha Lyaung is 250 feet long.
Several more sites followed including, towering over all, the glittering 376 foot high Shwemawdaw Stupa 46 feet higher than the Shwe Dagon in Yangon.